Friday, December 02, 2005

Things Fall Apart: No Whining Allowed!

Something is always breaking or falling apart here.

Hardly a day goes by that the plumbing or roof doesn’t spring a leak, or an electric appliance break, or a chair or dish develop a crack. My 2004 VW Bora has its third windshield and, as of yesterday 7 p.m., needs body work where a typically imprudent driver sideswiped me trying to race past everyone on the quiet main street of a tiny pueblo.

Sigh. Just replacing and repairing stuff takes hours every week.

Setting aside two afternoons a week to beg plumbers to come and to run into town to deliver or pick up items from repair shops was never on my agenda in the U.S. It is here.

If I wanted to be permanently unhappy, I could grumble all week about the quality of manufacturing, of cheaper imported goods, and of poorer maintenance and repairs here in Argentina.

But whining isn’t fun or functional, and besides, it is taboo here! As one Argentinian informed me: “You think you have a problem? If it can be fixed, it isn’t a problem, and if it can’t, it’s part of life so get used to it.” Complaining does not garner sympathy. . . nor does it inspire false cheer, although it can provoke folks to remind me things could have worse.

After all, no one was hurt in the accident yesterday. And, come to think of it, the car already had another ding awaiting repairs, so the one trip to the body shop will be efficient! I may wait until next week since this week’s repair list is already full.

This week’s repair list included the cordless phone, the computer monitor, the leaky bathroom roof, faulty pool filter, jammed storageroom lock, and one broken dish. Last week’s included our older car, the PC monitor and oven door & pilot light. After a year, the Whirlpool agent still hasn’t coughed up the replacement part for the fridge’s icemaker, so that stays on the permanent “to do” list along with repairs to the bathroom grout (just not priority items!).

And we won’t mention the sewing repairs I’d do if my 110-volt sewing machine didn’t go crazy when plugged into a transformer for the 220-volt electricity here! Nor the house exterior, including shutters, all needed paint. Those kinds of To Do lists exist everywhere. Luckily the knife sharpener makes house calls on bicycle (see photo).

Is it possible to draw any kind of spiritual lesson from this?

Well, yes. Even when machines falter, the world keeps turning. The sun and the moon and the stars bless me every day. Roberto continues to love me and accept my love. My friends still greet me with big smiles. Music from the hundreds of birds (and neighbor’s equipment) fills the air.

Let me be grateful that the essence of life will never depend on a reliable internet connection or good plumbing or a door that closes properly! And I am reminded to perform my own spiritual maintenance chores, to provide care and feeding for my own soul and those around me.


knowitallman said...
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